Observations and Tips from My Semana Santa Trip to Antigua in 2008

November 30, 2008 by  
Filed under Semana Santa What to Expect

Transportation—Plan on walking, so wear comfortable shoes as the streets are primarily cobblestone, and sidewalks aren’t always level. Tuk-tuks are available for short distances, but be prepared to speak Spanish to the drivers. Of course taxis are also available, but restaurants and tourist attractions (markets, jade factory, etc.) are within reasonable walking distance from the town square. You will also find horse-drawn carriages around the town square.

Currency—A lot of restaurants accepted credit cards (where you get the best rate), but some mom-and-pop type places only accepted local currency (quetzales). The vendors selling food during Semana Santa accept local currency. However, some local vendors at the area markets accept U.S. dollars. But it’s always helpful to carry at least some of the local currency when traveling abroad. 

Vaccinations—It isn’t necessary to get a malaria shot (or pill) before visiting Guatemala, but it is wise to be current on tetanus. It doesn’t hurt to get Hep A and Hep B shots as well, which my family and I did before we visited Guatemala. But others in our group didn’t, so the choice is yours. I recommend checking with the CDC before traveling to make an informed decision. 

Accommodation—My family and I stayed in a lovely bed and breakfast a few blocks from town square. The food was great, and the service was better! Keep in mind that it is customary to leave a tip for service staff. 

Language—As with most tourist places, some vendors and locals speak English. However, for out-of-the-way places and most tuk-tuk drivers, Spanish was preferred. Even if your Spanish isn’t grammatically perfect, just attempting to speak the local language is much appreciated. I had several people laugh at my attempts, but overall I think it is well worth it to brush up on the local language before traveling abroad. 

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